A Short History of Luxury: From Audrey Hepburn to Jay-Z and Beyoncé, the crazy saga of Tiffany & Co.

The American jeweler Tiffany & Co. is now an emblematic house of the luxury landscape. It has crossed the centuries and will celebrate its 185 years of existence in 2022. With a wealth of sumptuous creations and collaborations, here is the history of Tiffany & Co.

 

1837: Once upon a time, Tiffany & Co…

 

The beautiful story of Tiffany & Co began in 1837. The brand was born in New York under the impulse of Charles Lewis Tiffany and John B. Young. Both 25 years old, it is thanks to the opening of a store of supplies, costume jewelry and luxury items on Broadway Avenue that the Tiffany & Co. adventure begins. On the first day of sales, the success was not the same as in recent years: sales reached a total of 4.98 dollars.

 

Charles Tiffany: everything you need to know about the jewellery icon | Homes and Antiques
Charles Lewis Tiffany.

 

Eleven years later, in 1848, the company specialized in jewelry, and Tiffany became a renowned diamond destination. Charles Lewis Tiffany bought gems from European aristocrats, including Marie Antoinette, and brought them back to the United States, allowing the American elite to acquire real jewels directly in their country for the first time.

 

However, it was in 1867 at the Paris World’s Fair, which welcomed more than ten million visitors and 50,226 exhibitors, that the company made its name, 17 years after opening its first boutique in the City of Light. The company was awarded the Grand Prix for the Art of Silver, becoming the first American design house honored by a foreign jury.

 

Tiffany, d'une rive à l'autre de l'Atlantique
The facade of the Tiffany & Co. boutique in Paris, rue de la Paix.

 

By the end of the 19th century, Tiffany & Co had established itself as America’s leading supplier of jewelry, watches, luxury tableware and personal accessories, boasting more than a thousand employees and offices in London, Paris and Geneva. The latter had the luxury of decorating the interior of the White House in 1882. A beautiful ascension, therefore, more than 60 years after the creation of the jewelry house.

 

The twentieth century, synonymous with real success for Tiffany

 

After the death of the jeweler’s co-founder Charles Lewis Tiffany in 1902, his son Louis Comfort Tiffany took over the family business and became the first design director. An influential figure in the Art Nouveau movement, he began to create unique jewelry and porcelain lines that were imbued with the spirit of their time until at least 1950, and seduced celebrities, actors and political figures. Today, Louis Comfort Tiffany’s naturalist and colorful aesthetic remains a major inspiration for today’s Tiffany designers.

 

À propos de Louis Comfort Tiffany | Tiffany & Co.
Louis Comfort Tiffany next to one of his most iconic creations, imbued with nature’s inspirations.

 

In 1940, at the height of its golden age, Tiffany & Co. opened a luxurious store on prestigious Fifth Avenue. A true flagship of the jeweler, it, and its tea room, were already adorned with the signature turquoise blue “1837 Blue” that would become the brand’s emblem over the years. Attracting tourists and customers from all over the world, the Kennedys, Richard Nixon, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were among the guests.

 

New York City - 57th Street | Tiffany & Co.
Tiffany’s 5th Avenue Tea Room, New York © Tiffany & Co.

 

It also has a tea room, and it is here that the very famous Tiffany Diamond, a sublime and impressive 90-faceted yellow diamond discovered in 1878, is on permanent display. Today it has been worn by Lady Gaga and Beyoncé, on red carpets and in the “About Love” campaign.

 

L'exposition de Tiffany & Co. « Vision & Virtuosity » s'installe à Londres pour une rétrospective extraordinaire retraçant la créativité, l'artisanat et les bijoux de la Maison - LVMH
The Tiffany Diamond. © Tiffany & Co.

 

This emblematic flagship was immortalized in 1961 in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Diamonds on the Couch). An instant Hollywood classic, it was the very first film shot in Tiffany’s flagship, followed by Sleepless in Seattle in 1993 and Fashion Victim in 2002.

 

The icon of this film, Audrey Hepburn, appears in a little black dress, strings of Tiffany pearls around her neck, while enjoying a coffee in front of the diamond shop window. The impact of this film in the imagination of Americans and the world will once again anchor Tiffany & Co. in the place of inescapable jewellery house, solicited by the greatest.

 

La robe fourreau d'Audrey Hepburn dans Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) – A(rt)MIENS
Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961).

 

The 2000s: Unstoppable success

 

With several jewelry collections, all as unique as they are delicate and elegant, and all adorned with the most beautiful diamonds and precious stones ever found, Tiffany & Co. is now one of the most prestigious jewelry houses in the world – if not the most prestigious.

 

With new collections embodied by celebrities such as Beyonce and her husband Jay-Z, actresses Anya Taylor-Joy, Gal Gadot and Lady Gaga, Tiffany & Co. has elegantly crossed the centuries and built an international reputation.

 

TIFFANY & CO. S'ALLIE À THE CARTERS EN FAVEUR DES UNIVERSITÉS HISTORIQUEMENT NOIRES DES ÉTATS-UNIS - Paulette Magazine
Beyoncé and Jay-Z, icons of the Tiffany “About Love” campaign. © Tiffany & Co

 

While the Fifth Avenue store alone accounts for nearly 10% of the brand’s sales (in 2019, in the pre-pandemic period), Tiffany has more than 300 stores worldwide. Counting the U.S. and Asia as its primary markets, they together account for nearly 75% of sales.

 

In 2021, Tiffany was able to complete a record year with sales of 8.96 billion euros, proving once again that America’s iconic jeweler remains an illustrious jewelry house, and surely forever…

 

 

Read also > A SHORT HISTORY OF LUXURY: HOW SCHIAPARELLI’S FRIENDSHIP WITH DALÍ LED TO ICONIC COLLABORATIONS AND DESIGNS

 

Featured photo : © Tiffany

Grâce à une veille accrue et à une excellente connaissance de ces secteurs, la rédaction de Luxus Magazin décrypte pour ses lecteurs les principaux enjeux économiques et technologiques de la mode, l’horlogerie, la joaillerie, la gastronomie, les parfums et cosmétiques, l’hôtellerie, et l’immobilier de prestige.

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